September 19, 2017 Superintendent’s Blog

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19 Sep September 19, 2017 Superintendent’s Blog

September 19, 2017

New legislation of the Revised School Code of Michigan took effect in August of this year regarding suspension and expulsion of students for various reasons. The new law addresses concerns about zero tolerance measures, which in an attempt to provide greater school safety, removed necessary flexibility from school leadership before taking disciplinary action. In addition, the revision clarified the required reporting process to eliminate duplication and promote transparency.

The new legislation brings into the process Restorative Practices which emphasize repairing the harm to the victim and the school community caused by a student’s misconduct. It also requires consideration of other specific factors and options before suspending or expelling a student which were previously not allowed such as the student’s age, developmental abilities and whether the consequence was appropriate to the offense. It allows consideration of a lesser intervention, if it would properly address the violation or behavior.

The bill requires that school leadership be required to consider Restorative Practices as an alternative to suspension or expulsion and should be the first consideration for offenses such as interpersonal conflicts, bullying, verbal and physical conflicts, thefts, damage to property, class disruption, harassment and cyberbullying.

Restorative Practices may include victim-offender conferences that:

  • Are initiated by the victim;
  • Are approved by the victim’s parent or legal guardian, or, if the victim is at least 15, by the victim;
  • Are attended voluntarily by the victim, a victim advocate, the offender, members of the school community and supporters of the victim and the offender; and
  • Would provide an opportunity for the offender to accept responsibility for the harm caused to those affected, and to participate in setting consequences to repair the harm.

 

Possible consequences of the conference may include that an offender:

  • Be required to apologize to the victim;
  • Be required to participate in community service;
  • Be held responsible for restoration of emotional or material losses;
  • Be required to participate in counseling;
  • Pay restitution; or any combination of the above

 

Selected consequences and time limits for completion will be incorporated into an agreement to be signed by all parties.

The new legislation does not remove suspension or expulsion from the Revised School Code, but does allow more flexibility and focus upon repairing harm to the victim and school community.

Scott Korpak, Superintendent
616 363 6861 or skorpak@nvps.net